Areas of Practice

  • Commercial Litigation
  • Wrongful Death
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Unfair Business Competition
  • Employment Law Harassment and Discrimination
  • Energy, Oil and Gas
  • Personal Injury
  • Products Liability
  • Intellectual Property
  • Sports Law
  • Environmental Litigation
Lee. E. Plakas

Lee E. Plakas Managing Partner

Attorney Bio

Leonidas (Lee) E. Plakas has been involved in hundreds of civil jury trials during his career in both State and Federal Courts. After a two week jury trial in Federal Court, the Judge wrote in a post-trial ruling awarding attorney fees and costs in December, 2011: “Lee Plakas is an impressive trial lawyer, he is prepared for his courtroom presentations.”

Mr. Plakas’ record of trial successes is unique in the broad spectrum of types of cases in which he has won million dollar verdicts. His successes also include the highest defamation verdict in Ohio’s history – a $44 million verdict in the case of Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College. A $14 million result against a hospital system for corrupt activities, and million dollar plus verdicts and judgments in business breach of contract, medical malpractice, employment sexual harassment, nursing home negligence, workplace safety cases and personal injury cases.

In addition to the record setting $44 million defamation verdict, he has won several of the highest verdicts in business litigation, employment harassment and nursing home negligence in several northeastern Ohio counties.

He has experience in protecting landowners in energy, oil/gas and other mineral extraction cases. Mr. Plakas has been involved in negotiating oil and gas leases and monitoring related operations since as early as 1982. He has also been involved in cases dealing with complex environmental and waste disposal.

Mr. Plakas also represents businesses and corporations that operate on national and international levels. He has successfully defended businesses in “bet the company” jury trials involving claims for tens of millions of dollars. He has also successfully represented businesses in age and sex discrimination, contract, intellectual property, and other commercial litigation.


Attorney Lee E. Plakas Arguing Before the Supreme Court of Ohio

Professional Certifications

  • Mr. Plakas has been certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy annually since 1998. This certification requires testing and peer review, and is only bestowed upon trial attorneys who have been involved in numerous major jury trials and whose special civil trial expertise has been confirmed by judges and opposing attorneys who have been involved in jury trials with Mr. Plakas, and have observed his trial skills.
  • Mr. Plakas’ litigation prowess has also been recognized by the American Board of Trial Advocates since 2003, which also requires peer evaluation by judges and attorneys and an examination of performance on trials, to confirm his skills and accomplishments in the art of trial advocacy.
  • Mr. Plakas received the honor of being recognized by the International Society of Barristers in 2013. Membership is awarded to attorneys adjudged by their peers and judges to be “outstanding in their field of advocacy.”

Recognitions

  • Mr. Plakas has since 1996 received an annual AV rating from the Martindale-Hubbell National Law Directory, which is the highest possible rating for both professional ability and ethics.
  • Best Lawyers in America: “Lawyer of the Year” in Plaintiffs Personal Injury Litigation – 2013, 2016 and 2019
  • Ohio’s Top 100 Attorneys: Named among Ohio’s Top 100 Attorneys 2010 – 2016 and 2019 by Super Lawyers Magazine
  • Top 50 Northeast Ohio Area Attorneys Top 50 Cleveland Ohio Super Lawyers 2009, 2013 and 2019 by Super Lawyers Magazine
  • Best Lawyers in America: Selected by peers for inclusion in 2003 – 2019 Editions of “Best Lawyers in America” – Commercial Litigation; Personal Injury Litigation
  • Ohio Super Lawyer: Named Ohio Super Lawyer from 2004 – 2019 by The Cincinnati Magazine and Ohio Super Lawyers
  • Top Lawyer: Named Avvo Top Lawyer, rated by Avvo.com – highest rating “superb” 10 on scale of 1-10 from 2009 – 2018.
  • Super Lawyers: National Business Edition for Business Litigation in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 ,2016,2017, 2018 and 2019.
  • Top Rated Lawyer in Labor and Employment: Named as a 2013 Top Rated Lawyer in Labor & Employment by American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell™:
  • Two Tzangas, Plakas, Mannos & Raies Lawyers Honored for Their Work in Business (Youngstown Daily Legal News, June 21, 2011)
  • Outstanding Law Alumni of the Year Award – Akron University School of Law, May, 2001
  • Who’s Who in American Law
  • Appointed by Northern District of Ohio Federal Judges to serve on Committee to interview and recommend applicants for the judicial vacancy of Federal Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Ohio – Fall of 1999; Spring of 2008
  • Appointment by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland to the Ohio Judicial Appointments Recommendation Panel for Stark County Common Pleas Court judicial vacancy – Spring of 2007

Professional Associations

  • Mr. Plakas is one of the founding members and past President of the Stark County Association for Justice, in which organization he still serves as a Trustee.
  • After helping to establish the Stark County Academy of Trial Lawyers, Mr. Plakas also became one of the founding members of the Summit County Trial Lawyers Association.
  • He has served on the State Board of the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers,  now known as the Ohio Association for Justice both as a State Trustee for the Fifth Appellate District, and as a State Representative-at-Large.
  • Member of the American Association for Justice, Ohio Association for Justice, American Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, Akron Bar Association and the Stark County Bar Association.

Representative Cases

Business and Commercial Litigation

Nature of Case: Jury verdict in favor of small family bakery falsely accused of racism after it detained and prosecuted Oberlin College students who shoplifted from store.

Result: $44,200,000 verdict and attorney fee award in favor of client Gibson’s Bakery.
Length of Trial: 6 weeks
Significant Points: Largest defamation verdict in Ohio’s legal history.  Additional attorney fee award of $6.6 million.  Received international attention.
Case Identification: Gibson Brothers vs. Oberlin College
Venue: Lorain County Common Pleas Court
Date: Spring 2019

Nature of Case: Jury verdict in favor of hospital client against competing hospital health system that had entered into secret relationships and made secret payments to health insurance brokers to convert group health consumers to its health plans and health system.

Result: $10,145,000 verdict and attorney fee award in favor of client Mercy Medical Center.
Length of Trial: 9 weeks – longest civil trial in Stark County history
Significant Points: Largest business or commercial verdict in Stark County history; also only known verdict finding that a non-profit health system had engaged in a Pattern of Corrupt Activities.
Case Identification: Mercy Medical Center vs. Aultman Health System
Venue: Stark County Common Pleas Court
Date: Spring 2010

Nature of Case: Successful defense of a claim against international Summit County based electrical transformer company client against a claim by business associates, alleging an ownership interest in the international operations of the company and its revenues amounting to tens of millions of dollars.

Result: Defense verdict on behalf of electrical transformer company client rejecting the claims of ownership and recovery on counterclaim against claimants in favor of client company for claimants’ unfounded allegations in the amount of $50,000.
Length of Trial: 4 weeks
Significant Points: Trial involved witnesses and transactions in Europe and Canada, including attempts by claimants to set up unauthorized business operations in Canada and Europe utilizing trade names and intellectual property of client
Case Identification: S.D. Myers vs. George, et al.
Venue: Summit County Common Pleas Court
Date: Fall 1989

Nature of Case: Successful defense of allegations of business fraud in contract agreements and invoices, with claims of financial damages of $15 million.

Result: Successful defense of claim against client in excess of $15 million for alleged lost profits based upon claim of fraudulently inflated job quotes; client awarded damages of $65,000 in counterclaim.
Length of Trial: 3 weeks
Significant Points: Alleged damages included $15 million in lost profits and lost opportunities, plus a claim for punitive damages.
Case Identification: GBS vs. Hughes Financial
Venue: Stark County
Date: 1998

Nature of Case: Breach of contract trial asserted by McDonald’s franchisee client against another McDonald’s franchisee for the latter’s failure to honor an agreement to sell a McDonald’s restaurant to client.

Result: $2,500,000 judgment including interest in favor of client.
Length of Trial: 1 week
Significant Points: Case challenges included projecting the value of the lost opportunity to own a specific McDonald’s store.
Case Identification: Tomtreyco vs. Dana Lewis McDonalds
Venue: Stark County
Date: March 2010

Employment Discrimination and Harassment – Employee as Client

Nature of Case: Harassment and sexually hostile work environment case against local dentist brought on behalf of female dentist employee.

Result: $1,505,000 verdict in favor of client female dentist.
Length of Trial: 1-1/2 weeks
Significant Points: Verdict included $5,000 compensatory damages and $1,500,000 punitive damages. This is largest verdict in a sexual harassment case in Stark County history.
Case Identification: Schen vs. Dr. Wilson
Venue: Stark County Common Pleas Court
Date: May 2005

Nature of Case: Case on behalf of former police chief of township for wrongful termination.

Result: Verdict in the amount of $530,000 in favor of client former police chief.
Length of Trial: 1-1/2 weeks
Significant Points: Although there was no written employment agreement guaranteeing employment, the jury found in favor based upon concepts of promissory estoppel and implied contract.
Case Identification: Paar vs. Jackson Township
Venue: Stark County Common Pleas Court
Date: July 2003

Nature of Case: Claim by client University of Akron professor against University for violation of freedom of speech and gender discrimination.

Result: Verdict in favor of employee/client in amount of $60,000.
Length of Trial: 1-1/2 weeks
Significant Points: This is only known verdict where a state university has been found to have violated a professor’s right to freedom of speech.
Case Identification: Speers vs. University of Akron
Venue: Akron Federal District Court/Northern District of Ohio
Date: May 2002

Employment Discrimination and Harassment – Employer as Client

Nature of Case: Allegation of sexual harassment and sexually hostile workplace brought by a dental assistant against a large and well-known Summit County dental practice.

Result: Verdict for defense on behalf of client/employer/dental practice.
Length of Trial: 1-1/2 weeks
Significant Points: Three similarly situated employees filed three separate lawsuits on the same grounds. After the dental practice was successfully defended by Mr. Plakas in the first lawsuit, the other two claims were dismissed.
Case Identification: Vani vs. SDG
Venue: Summit County Common Pleas Court
Date: 1998

Nature of Case: Racial discrimination case brought by employee against Summit County international manufacturer based upon alleged unequal disciplinary action.

Result: Defense verdict on behalf of client/employer.
Length of Trial: 1-1/2 weeks
Significant Points: Claimant made claim for both compensatory and punitive damages amounting to high six figures, with a zero verdict final result.
Case Identification: Hills vs. SDM
Venue: Summit County Common Pleas Court
Date:  1999

Nature of Case: Sexual harassment/hostile workplace claim made by young female employee of a national fast food chain.

Result: Defense verdict in favor of client/owner of national fast food chain.
Length of Trial: 1 week
Significant Points: Alleged improper sexual actions against client’s young store assistant manager who had social relationship with some of employees.
Case Identification: Roth vs. McDonald’s
Venue: Stark County
Date:  July 2005

Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death

Nature of Case: Claim that rehabilitation hospital failed to properly treat and prevent fecal impaction and failed to timely notify doctor of patient’s declining condition.

Result: Verdict in favor of client in the amount of $3,000,000.00.
Length of Trial: 2 weeks
Case Identification: Williams v. Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital
Venue: Trumbull County Common Pleas Court
Date: April, 2017

Nature of Case: Medical malpractice wrongful death case for failure of a number of physicians to diagnose appendicitis and ruptured appendix.

Result: Verdict in favor of client/patient in amount of approximately $1 million, including both compensatory damages and pre-judgment interest.
Length of Trial: 3-1/2 weeks
Significant Points: Case was appealed by one of defendants to Ohio Supreme Court which established precedent regarding inexcusable procedural errors by the defendant.
Case Identification: Davis vs. Alliance Immediate Care
Venue: Stark County Court of Common Pleas
Date: June 1994

Medical Malpractice

Nature of Case: Medical malpractice/cosmetic laser surgery gone bad because of dermatologist’s lack of familiarity with new laser operative equipment.

Result: $1.3 million plus verdict and pre-judgment interest in favor of client/patient.
Length of Trial: 2 weeks
Significant Points: In addition to denying liability, defense raised issues of patient overuse of cosmetic procedures.
Case Identification: Speers vs. Wikas
Venue: Stark County Common Pleas Court
Date: 2000

Professional Malpractice

Nature of Case: Accounting malpractice against Summit County CPA firm for favoring one of two physicians in a physician/surgical practice.

Result: Verdict in favor of client/physician and against accounting firm for $70,000.
Length of Trial: 1 week
Significant Points: Jury found accounting firm had equal responsibilities to both majority/minority physician owners.
Case Identification: Candage vs. Weiner
Venue: Stark County Common Pleas Court
Date:  1997

Sports Law Litigation

Nature of Case: The Ohio High School Athletic Association and/or rival schools had argued that a talented football player had been improperly influenced by prominent boosters to transfer to a prominent Stark County high school with a national football tradition.

Result: Judgment overturning orders of the Ohio State High School Athletic Association preventing local football player from playing and public school from permitting player to participate in football season.
Length of Trial: Several weeks, including both administrative hearings and trial.
Significant Points: The case attracted intense regional media attention because of the national reputation of the school. One of the few reported cases in Ohio high school history wherein the eligibility orders of the Association were overturned.
Case Identification: Scott vs. Ohio High School Athletic Association
Venue: Stark County Common Pleas Court
Date: March 2001

Nature of Case: Suit by client National Professional Soccer League, formerly known as A.I.S.A., against owner of one of the teams in the National Professional Soccer League for refusal to field a team for the season after commitments had already been made to be a part of the League.

Result: Verdict in favor of client for $200,000 compensatory and $500,000 punitive.
Length of Trial: 2 weeks
Significant Points: The punitive damages were awarded against the owner of the team that failed to participate in the season.
Case Identification: NPSL vs. O’Hara
Venue: Cleveland Federal District Court/Northern District Ohio
Date: Summer 1993

Nature of Case: Sports anti-trust judgment in favor of client/National Professional Soccer League against class action filed by players who had filed anti-trust labor action against the League and sought injunction against certain employment practices.

Result: Ruling in favor of League denying injunction and resulting in dismissal of players’ anti-trust action.
Significant Points: Had players been successful in receiving initial injunction, it was likely that majority of players in soccer league would join in lawsuit, resulting in significant damage to the league.
Case Identification: Players vs. NPSL
Venue: Kansas City Federal District Court
   

Nursing Home Negligence

Nature of Case: Client nursing home resident slipped while walking without assistance, struck her head, and died within a week.

Result: Verdict in favor of client/patient in amount of $1,001,540, plus an additional $147,000 for pre-judgment interest for failure of defendant to negotiate in good faith.
Length of Trial: 1-1/2 weeks
Significant Points: Jury determined that fall was caused by lack of staffing and/or lack of preventative safety equipment and/or procedures.
Case Identification: Volpe vs. Heather Knoll
Venue: Summit County Common Pleas Court
Date: January 2011

Nature of case: Client, 80 years old, residing in an assisted living facility, was erroneously given an anti-diabetic drug that was not prescribed for her, resulting in brain damage and death.

Result: Verdict in favor of client/patient in the amount of $1,930,000 plus $554,174.17 for attorney fees and costs.
Length of Trial:  2 weeks
Significant Points: Largest assisted living or nursing home verdict in the history of Northeast Ohio at that time. The defendant was represented by three separate law firms from three different states, all of whom had lawyers in the courtroom at the same time. The Federal Court Judge handling the case ruled: “Lee Plakas is an impressive trial lawyer. He is prepared for his courtroom presentations.” Page 19 of December 30, 2011 decision by Federal Judge. “Plaintiff’s success in this difficult case was accomplished as a consequence of the demonstrable skills of attorneys Plakas and Frantz.” Page 22 of December 30, 2011 decision by Federal Judge.
Case Identification: Freudman vs. Emeritus/Landing of Canton
Venue: Akron Federal District Court/Northern District Ohio
Date: August 2011

Workplace Safety

Nature of Case: Taxi cab driver was murdered while responding to a fare that did not show up for two previous pick-ups. Taxi cab driver was not warned that the fare had not shown up for two previous pick-ups, and person who had called murdered driver on third and final request for service.

Result: Verdict in favor of client/decedent taxi cab driver in the amount of $2,500,000; reduced to $627,500 for fault attributable to murderer
Length of Trial: 1-1/2 weeks
Significant Points: Verdict recognized that in maintaining a safe workplace employers must anticipate and warn their employees of dangerous criminal elements that might be lurking
Case Identification: Client vs. City Yellow Cab
Venue: Summit County Common Pleas Court
Date: Summer 2009

Environmental and Mineral Extraction

Nature of Case: Claim by neighbors against cement plant for improper blasting during mining operations that affected neighbors’ water and ability to enjoy their home.

Result: Verdict in favor of client/neighbors for over $200,000.
Length of Trial: 2-1/2 weeks
Significant Points: Cement company was rogue company that until this case had been successful in avoiding any liability on virtually every business or operational activity. Case was referred to in national periodicals which did expose on company and family who owned company.
Case Identification: Client vs. SME Cement
Venue: Stark County Common Pleas Court
Date:  1991

Consumer

Nature of Case: Claim by client homebuyers against real estate company for failure to evaluate competence of a home inspector prior to recommending to their clients.

Result: Judgment in favor of clients in amount of $50,000 compensatory; $20,000 punitive; and approximately $126,715 attorney fees
Length of Trial: 1-1/2 weeks
Significant Points: One of few cases in Ohio holding a business responsible for improper recommendations of third parties to its clients
Case Identification: Client vs. Cutler Realty
Venue: Stark County Common Pleas Court
Date: December 2007

Defamation

Nature of Case: Claim for defamation by client/high school wrestling coach against school district which improperly accused him and suspended him on allegations of Booster Club financial impropriety.

Result: Lawsuit against school superintendent and school board attorney who pursued the action and resulted in a settlement in favor of client wrestling coach in amount of $450,000
Length of Trial: Case settled after client was successful in 2 court of appeals decisions
Significant Points: Although there was minimal loss of income, the case result recognized importance of protecting the reputation of someone who has worked hard to establish himself
Case Identification: Client vs. Richards, et al.
Venue: Stark County Common Pleas Court
Date: February 2010

Professional Presentations

Presentations Made To Attorneys: Statewide Professional Seminars

  • Ohio Association for Justice – Annual State Trial Lawyers Seminar and Convention, Columbus, Ohio- May, 2011 Subject: Jury Selection in Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Nursing Home, Workplace Safety, Consumer and Business Trials.
  • Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers- Annual State Medical Negligence Seminar, Columbus, Ohio- November, 2002 Subject: Winning Plastic Surgery Cases.
  • Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers- Annual State Trial Lawyers Convention and Seminar, Columbus, Ohio- May 3, 1995 Subject: Defining The Tort of Wrongful Discharge- Public Policy Exception To Employment At Will.
  • Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers- Annual State Trial Lawyers Convention and Seminar, Cleveland, Ohio- April 30, 1993 Subject: Responsibilities of Employers and Employees- Fair Dealings, Fiduciary Duties and Faithless Servants.
  • Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers- State Seminars: Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, Ohio- January, 1996; Subject: “Business Insurance Policies — Do Employees Have UM/UIM Coverage?”
  • Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers- State Seminars, Columbus, Cincinnati & Cleveland, Ohio-December and January, 1991- Construction and Interpretation of Insurance Contracts.
  • Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers- Annual State Trial Lawyers Convention and Seminar, Columbus, Ohio- April 1989 Subject: Assumption of Risk, Contributory Negligence, and Other Product Liability Defenses.

Presentations Made To Attorneys: Regional Professional Seminars

  • Mahoning/Trumbull Academy of Trial Lawyers – Regional Trial Seminar, Warren, Ohio -Fall 1989 – Use of Vocational Expert in Maximizing Damages;
  • Stark County Academy of Trial Lawyers – Regional Trial Seminar, Canton, Ohio – October 1, 1999 – Combating Abusive Discovery Tactics;
  • Stark County Academy of Trial Lawyers – Regional Trial Seminar, Canton, Ohio -November 8, 1996 – How to Preserve and Win Your Appeal;
  • Stark County Academy of Trial Lawyers – Regional Trial Seminar, Canton, Ohio -November 10, 1995 – Everything You Need to Know About Experts – Trial Strategies;
  • Stark County Academy of Trial Lawyers – Regional Trial Seminar, Canton, Ohio -October 28, 1994 – Presenting Medical Testimony;
  • Stark County Academy of Trial Lawyers – Regional Trial Seminar, Canton, Ohio -October 30, 1992 – The Opening Statement;
  • Stark County Academy of Trial Lawyers – Regional Trial Seminar, Canton Ohio -November 1, 1991 – Preparing the Doctor for Trial;
  • Stark County Academy of Trial Lawyers – Regional Trial Seminar, Canton, Ohio -October 5, 1990 – Effective Cross-Examination of a Medical Expert;
  • Stark County Academy of Trial Lawyers – Regional Trial Seminar, Canton, Ohio -October, 1989 – Effective Use of a Vocation Rehabilitation Expert;
  • Stark County Academy of Trial Lawyers – Regional Trial Seminar, Canton, Ohio -Winter 1983 Direct Exam of a Trial Witness;
  • Stark County Bar Association – 1989 – County Seminar – Products Liability Statutory Changes Created by Tort Reform;
  • Summit County Trial Lawyers Association – October 5, 1994 – Presentation – Effective Use of Verdict Reporters and Deposition Banks;
  • Published article entitled “The Negligence Cause of Action & Assumption of Risk in Removal of Safety Guard Cases”, in a national legal magazine, Products Liability, Commentary & Cases, August, 1986